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 IU Trident Indiana University

Dynamical Evolution of Globular Star Clusters

Project Leads: Bill Sherman, Advanced Visualization Lab, UITS Research Technologies , Indiana University

Dynamical Evolution of Globular Star Clusters
Figure 1. As the globular cluster evolves, it emits stars along tidal tails from the top and bottom of the cluster in the general direction of the cluster's orbit around the galactic center.

The Advanced Visualization Lab worked with IU Department of Astronomy professor Enrico Vesperini to create visualizations of globular star cluster dynamical evolution. 

he results of supercomputer simulations can be difficult to express to general audiences, and even to technical audiences without expertise in a particular field. Using videos created with the AVL, Dr. Vesperini is able to demonstrate his research to students new to the subfield of globular clusters, the public, and even other astronomers whose area of expertise is outside the realm of cluster interactions. Dr. Vesperini continues to use the workflow developed for this project to create visualizations to aid his research and exhibit at conferences and events.

Dr. Vesperini uses IU's supercomputers to simulate the formation and dynamical evolution of globular star clusters. The AVL utilized the open-source application ParaView to create visual representations of the three stages of cluster evolution. This is a followup project to a collaboration that resulted in visualizations of different forms of cluster evolution. This effort explored how binary and trinary star groupings contain a source of energy within the core of the system. This visualization has been rendered both for monoscopic and for stereoscopic presentation. By developing a workflow to take these simulations from text files to high definition videos, the AVL has empowered Dr. Vesperini to create his own visualizations in the future. 

IU's Advanced Visualization Lab is funded through the Office of the Vice President for Information Technology; is a unit of UITS Research Technologies; and is affiliated with the Pervasive Technology Institute. For questions about this project or to request a consultation, please contact

NSF GSS Codes:

Primary Field: Astronomy (201) - Astrophysics

Secondary Field: Computer Science (401) - Computer Systems Networking and Telecommunications